We need to build a movement of people with lived experience of disability and services using the social model of disability. Co-production must be key, but this can only be done if we expand our membership, upskill our members and work with other like-minded partners to change our experiences of public services, including the police, Mental Health services, the NHS in general, the court system, immigration and asylum and the welfare system, radically changing the attitudes and cultures of all public services.
We don’t expect to change the world immediately but, by working with our members and partners, we can start the process towards reducing poverty, recurring ill health and poor life chances for those with disabilities.
We have data which shows how our members and service users are discriminated against by our public services. We want to weaponise that data to campaign for change in the way services are planned, funded, developed and delivered. Through fundamental cultural and attitudinal change in our public services, we would enable people with disabilities to maximise their potential and play a more meaningful and active role in society whether through employment, volunteering, greater social inclusion or by playing more active roles in political or public life.
This work has already started through co-production and involvement in service design and implementation but there is still much to do to radically change the way services are designed and delivered. Through having a more skilled and vocal membership, working with partners and service providers, we can in time change the way services are delivered.
This approach should enable us to start the process of increasing involvement of the most vulnerable and isolated in the disabled community, practically making positive differences to people’s lives and build a movement across London to address common concerns across all those who are marginalised in our society.
We would start by setting up a communications and campaigns steering group to ensure that the work that we want to undertake effectively meets the aims of this proposal.
We would employ a Campaigns Manager to manage the work of this initiative and develop relationships with other groups, individuals and our members. The Campaigns Manager would be responsible for facilitating upskilling of our members so they can use their skills, experience and expertise to make change happen.
Hear Us is a well-respected user-led and ran Mental Health charity with a long history of providing advice to some of the most disadvantaged and marginalised groups in Croydon over at least the last 15 years. We have developed strong relationships with Mind in Croydon, Croydon BME Forum and others in the voluntary sector and service providers such as South London and Maudsley NHS Trust. Building on our long history of involvement in the Mental Health community in Croydon, we are well placed to use what we have learnt in service provision to address underlying issues which persistently affect our members and others when using public services.